Many Surrealists produced objects and images with an insistently erotic dimension. This was driven, in part, by their interests in Freudian psychology and so-called “primitive” non-Western art, which they presumed to be untainted by modernist rationalism. Though these explorations of the human figure had a long tradition in the history of art, Surrealists went further, breaking taboos and shocking viewers in their depiction of mutilated, dismembered, or distorted bodies. In the 1930s, such visions may have had particular resonance given the still-pervasive sight of World War I veterans—many left limbless or using prosthetics—and the specter of a second World War on the horizon.


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